July 27 (UPI) -- New Jersey police raided and shut down an Airbnb house party in a suburban neighborhood Sunday night where a crowd estimated at 700 partiers gathered without masks or social distancing.
Police in Jackson Township, N.J., said the gathering, which was advertised on Instagram as a Liberian Independence Day party, violated state health regulations limiting indoor gatherings to 100 people, or 25 percent of a building's capacity.
Police identified the owner of the home as Yaakov Weiss, 40, who told authorities he had recently purchased the 3,700 sq. foot house in the upscale Whispering Hill neighborhood. Weiss told police he rented the home for the party and then left the area Sunday night. The home was listed on Airbnb as renting for $795 per night, NJ.com reported.
Officers from multiple jurisdictions as well as Ocean County Sheriff's deputies took four hours to break up the event and move traffic, WKXW-FM Radio reported.
Party organizers Patience Guanue, 23 and Alicia Hinneh, 22, both of Newark, N.J. advertised, a $1,000 twerking contest and free alcohol and food at the event, according to posts on social media. Both, as well as Weiss, the homeowner, were cited for violating Gov. Phil Murphy's coronavirus executive order.
Earlier in the week, police broke up a party on July 21 in Brick, N.J., that drew crowds of more than 400 and "got out of hand," the party organizer said. Two officers were injured when they were struck by a car leaving the party.
Health officials worry that the large gatherings could become "super-spreader" events that will drive up the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Gov. Murphy has blamed "knuckleheads" in the Garden State for flaunting mask and social distancing rules, leading to the state's pause in resuming social events such as indoor dining and forcing schools to delay in-person instruction.
New Jersey has seen more than 181,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 15,787 deaths from the virus, according to the Johns Hopkins online tracker.